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Everything you need to know about the 2018 Ohio State Buckeyes, from A to Z

G is for Grinch, O is for Option, B is for Big Bob, U is for Urban, C is for Center, K is for Kick Return, S is for Special Teams...

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Goodyear Cotton Bowl - USC v Ohio State Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The unusual circumstances that surrounded Ohio State’s 2018 fall camp have left Buckeye-focused media outlets a little light on substantive content this August. There hasn’t been nearly as much information about the actual on-field happenings as there normally is in the lead-up to a Buckeye season.

So, we decided to provide you with a handy list of everything that you need to know about the 2018 Ohio State Buckeyes, from A to Z!


A is for Almost Here

Folks, I know that the past month has been horrendous for us as Buckeye fans, but we are less than three days away from the start of the 2018 Ohio State football season, and there is so much to be grateful. The talent accumulated on this year’s squad is remarkable, but it will be a very different team than in recent years, mainly because J.T. Barrett will not be leading the team. Because of the #16 shaped hole in the backfield, there will inherently be a ton of questions about what the team and offense will look like this season. While Dwayne Haskins be able to live up to the flashes of brilliance he showed in relief last season? Will Zone 6 finally be able to live up to their lofty expectations? Have we seen the last of the zone-read? Only time will tell, but thank Woody above, that time is running short! — Matt Tamanini

B is for Big Bob

Robert Landers is one of the easiest Ohio State players to root for in the history of the progam. He’s not only a delightful human being, but has also had to overcome a lot to get to where he is now. Landers flies under the radar when compared to his fellow linemates, but quietly has 12.5 tackles for loss over the past two seasons, and is poised for an even bigger role in 2018, as he was officially named a starter on Tuesday. Long live our fruit snack crushing son. — Colton Denning

C is for Center

While the Buckeye coaching staff has never been afraid of moving around pieces on the offensive line, especially at center, there were still some question marks early on in training camp surrounding who would be snapping the ball to Dwayne Haskins this season. During the limited media availability at the team’s fourth practice of the fall, to nearly everyone’s surprise, all-conference guard Michael Jordan was taking first team snaps. The conventional wisdom was that senior Brady Taylor would anchor the line this season, but when the two-deep was released on Tuesday, it was Jordan slotted in to attempt to fill the very big shoes of other guards-turned-award-winning-centers Pat Elflein and Billy Price. — Alexis Chassen and Matt Tamanini

D is for Day

Now that we know that Urban Meyer won’t be on the sidelines for the first three games of the 2018 season, there is more focus on what interim head coach Ryan Day brings to his new-found, temporary position. The media blackout made it difficult to assess how Day was handling the added responsibilities, but with Monday’s press conference, Day showed that he was, in fact, “built for this,” as he appeared calm, in control, and like he was ready to lead a team to a national championship. There will almost certainly be a bit of a learning curve as Day, Greg Schiano, and Kevin Wilson figure out how to make decisions, but fortunately, the game against Oregon State should give them plenty of opportunities to work out the kinks. There is no doubt in my mind that Day will eventually make an excellent full-time head coach somewhere... I just hope that he hangs around Columbus long enough to succeed Urban Meyer. — Matt Tamanini

E is for Electric (off the Bye)

If you were looking for a game to wager on, then the Ohio State-Nebraska contest on Nov. 3 might be the one. OSU has won 11 straight games in the regular season following a bye week. Last season, a well-rested Buckeye squad completed the comeback against Penn State, 39-38; in 2016, it was poor Rutgers who felt the wrath of Ohio State, 58-0. — Geoff Hammersley

F is for First Meeting

OSU plays Tulane for the first time ever in Week 2 of the season, as the Green Wave will be running into a brigade of Scarlet and Gray on Sept. 22. If the visitors from Louisiana aren’t already overwhelmed about playing in The ‘Shoe for the first time, then they might be a little apprehensive about how non-conference opponents have faired coming to Columbus. Heading into the season, the Buckeyes have won 27-of-30 while hosting non-conference opposition. Virginia Tech and Oklahoma were tough losses under the lights, but Tulane is during the day, and aren’t anywhere close to being at the same level as the Hokies or Sooners. — Geoff Hammersley

G is for Grinch

The NCAA allowing college football teams to add a 10th assistant coach starting this past January gave Ohio State the room needed to add former Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch to the staff. The Grove City-native will serve as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach for the Buckeyes. Grinch’s stock soared after the work he did with the Wazzu defense over the past few years, and he is thought to be an up-and-coming head coaching candidate. The Cougars forced at least 23 turnovers in each of Grinch’s three seasons in Pullman, Washington, and if the Buckeyes can replicate that ball hawking ability, it will make an already strong defense even tougher to crack. — Brett Ludwiczak

H is for Haskins

Let’s be honest, in many ways, this season will hinge on how well Dwayne Haskins is able to handle the pressures of being the starting quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He looked tremendous in relief duty last season, but the expectations of a QB2—especially one playing mostly in garbage time—are vastly different than those of the heart and soul of the Buckeyes’ team. While not yet perfect, Haskins has shown that he has the arm and the athleticism to fill the shoes left behind by J.T. Barrett, but, we all know that #16’s greatest attributes were his leadership and determination. If as much of that rubbed off on Haskins as I think it did, he could be the next great OSU QB. — Matt Tamanini

I is for Isaiah Prince

After a rough start to his Ohio State career in 2016, Prince was one of the most improved Buckeyes in 2017, earning third-team All-Big Ten honors. Expectations are even higher this year for the offensive tackle, as the big man from Maryland has been placed on the Outland Trophy watch list. Prince will be looked at as one of the leaders of an offensive line that will be tasked to not only open up holes for J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, but also to keep new starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins clean. — Brett Ludwiczak

J is for Johnnie Dixon

The wide receiver has been through it all during his time at Ohio State. From injuries that sidelined him for YEARS, to nearly giving up the game in 2016, to being considered a dark horse NFL prospect after the 2017 season. Dixon made the surprising decision—like many of his position-mates—to return to OSU for his final season, and we can expect some big things from veteran-filled Zone 6 this fall. — Alexis Chassen

K is for Kick Return

Did you know that Ohio State’s last kick return touchdown was by Jordan Hall in the 2010 Michigan game? That’s too long of a drought for a program that’s had as many talented athletes as Ohio State’s had the last decade. It almost ended last year when Parris Campbell was one of the better kick returners in the country, but then he got hurt against Penn State, and the coaches decided that Mike Weber (???) returning kicks was a good idea (Narrator: It wasn’t!). LGHL favorite Demario McCall is listed as the starting kick returner against Oregon State to open the season, and if anyone deserves to break the streak, it’s him. #FreeDemarioColton Denning

L is for Leaders

With a week to go before the season opener, OSU announced the captains for the 2018-19 football season. Like in years past, there’s a handful—but each is deserving of the coveted honor. Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, Nick Bosa, Tuf Borland, Johnnie Dixon, Isaiah Prince and Jordan Fuller are the seven members that will captain the Bucks this season. — Geoff Hammersley

M is for Milestone

Before the month of September closes, the Buckeye program should be in even more elite territory than it already is. Actually, they should be there by the end of Week 2. With a pair of wins, Ohio State will have crossed over into the 900-win club. They would be only the second FBS team to get there, with The Team Up North getting there first. It’ll be a big moment when the Buckeyes get there, and if everything goes according to plan, it’ll be Rutgers who will be the 900th team downed by the Scarlet and Gray. Sorry in advance, Scarlet Knights, but it seems appropriate that OSU would make history against one of the two teams that played in the very first college football game in the very nice 1869 season. With five wins, the Buckeyes would pass Yale to have the second spot on the all-time wins list in all of college football. — Geoff Hammersley

N is for Neutral Site

For Ohio State, playing on a neutral field is generally a sign of a couple things. A) the Buckeyes are in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game or B) they are playing in a bowl game. If you mention the words AT&T Stadium as the neutral site, then you’re probably thinking Cotton Bowl or CFP National Championship. However, this season, the Buckeyes make a “neutral” site visit in Week 3 to face TCU. To me, it feels like TCU is getting the better deal here because Fort Worth is a lot closer to Arlington than Columbus; about 1,050 miles closer to be exact. Either way, the Buckeyes have been more than sufficient when it comes to neutral venue games in the past six seasons. After losing the conference title game and Orange Bowl in 2013, the Buckeyes have gone 7-1 in neutral site contests. That’s pretty good. — Geoff Hammersley

O is for Option

Throughout the entirety of Urban Meyer’s tenure as Ohio State’s head coach, the zone-read has been a staple of the offense. With quarterbacks like Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, it made sense to take advantage of their respective elusive and/or powerful running styles. However, new QB Dwayne Haskins is not Miller, nor is he Barrett, when it comes to running. But don’t think that that means the end of the read-option in OSU’s playbook. Though he might be throw-first, Haskins can still run; and while you shouldn’t expect to see him leading the team in rush attempts like J.T. and Braxton often did, the threat of the QB run should open up lanes for J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, and it will aid in the receivers getting more separation down field (see RPO below). — Matt Tamanini

P is for Pass Rush

Yes, the Rushmen package will be back for another season to terrify opposing offensive lines. Despite losing Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes to the NFL Draft, the Ohio State defensive line returns as one of the most powerful defensive units in college football. Nick Bosa will finally have his chance to shine as the leader of the unit while rising stars like Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper look to make an immediate impact. On the interior, the defensive tackle position is getting a surge of talent to match the end position. Veteran Dre’Mont Jones returns for his redshirt junior season alongside Robert Landers. Haskell Garrett and Davon Hamilton, meanwhile, are expected to provide some much-needed depth. — Meredith Hein

Q is for Quarterback Depth

Now I know that everyone in Buckeye Nation, including Urban Meyer, has a talent crush on Tate Martell, but with Joe Burrow now calling plays for LSU, the question remains up in the air as to who will be Haskins’ backup. On the depth chart and in blowouts, it will almost certainly be Martell, but that is more or less out of necessity as freshman Matthew Baldwin is still recovering from an ACL injury last year, and West Virginia transfer Chris Chugunov has only recently arrived on campus. However, as both of those QBs work themselves into game readiness, you have to start wondering who would best serve the offense should Haskins go down for an extended period of time. Haskins and Baldwin are both 6-foot-3, throw-first, dual-threat quarterbacks, while Martell is a 5-foot-11, running QB who in what little we’ve seen of him, has struggled to complete passes (he went 5-16 passing for 28 yards through the air in April’s spring game).

For his part, the 6-foot-1 Chugunov has a distinct advantage over the other two backups, he’s the only one to ever have taken a snap as a college quarterback.

Haskins and Baldwin, and to a lesser degree Chugunov, are all quarterbacks that fit the style of newly elevated play-caller and interim head coach Ryan Day; and unsurprisingly, Day was the primary recruiter on Baldwin. So, if the unexpected happens, and Haskins goes down for longer than a few plays, would it make more sense to install the talented backup most similar to the starter? Or, the talented backup who is the polar opposite of the starter? — Matt Tamanini

R is for RPO

As referenced above, Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day will still incorporate option football into the offense, but more than likely you will see it develop into more passing options than it has in the past. This is not a new addition to the Buckeye playbook, but instead just a simple reshuffling of priorities based on the talent running the offense. As you can see in the video below from last year’s Big Ten Championship Game, the threat of running, from both the tailbacks and quarterbacks, can open up big play options through the air. Now, Dwayne Haskins and J.T. Barrett have vastly different skill sets as quarterbacks, but these plays will not be new to the offense. We will likely see them more, and perhaps further downfield, than we did with Barrett. But at its core, this will still be the same OSU offense. — Matt Tamanini

S is for Special Teams

With Kerry Coombs having moved on to the NFL to join Mike Vrabel’s coaching staff in Tennessee, Ohio State’s special teams unit could have a bit of a new look this year. Taver Johnson returns to Ohio State as cornerbacks coach, and will also assume the role of special teams coordinator. While Coombs was famous for his high energy on the sidelines, Ohio State did have issues at times in coverage on kickoff returns, most notably when Penn State’s Saquon Barkley returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.

The one area where Johnson shouldn’t have to focus too much attention on is punter. Drue Chrisman had some big shoes to fill last year in taking over for Cameron Johnston, but the redshirt freshman impressed by averaging 44.2 per punt last year. Ahead of his sophomore season, Chrisman has been named to the watch list for the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation’s best punter. — Brett Ludwiczak

T is for Twelve Returning Starters

Teams that have experience tend to do well. Ohio State should be in that category, as a dozen starters return for a potential College Football Playoff run in 2018. On offense, seven members are back, including H-back Parris Campbell and wide receiver Terry McLaurin. On the defensive side, only five returners are back—but they big ones. Nick Bosa on the defensive line will look to gobble quarterbacks, while Damon Arnette will look to make the secondary a no-fly zone. — Geoff Hammersley

U is for Urban Meyer

For better or for worse, a large part of the story of this season will always be Urban Meyer’s suspension. How the team reacts to that suspension will go a long way towards whether the history books remember the 2018 campaign as one of disappointment, or one of overcoming the self-inflicted wounds that led to the program’s largest distraction since #TattooGate.

While the coaching staff seems to have handled Meyer’s absence about as well as any group could, there is no doubt that the team would be better if he were there. One, because he’s one of the best college football coaches in the history of the game, and two, because the staff is literally down a man; they have been short one coach for the entirety of fall practice. While I am of the opinion that the team should be able to make it through the three games of Urban’s suspension unscathed, I would feel much confident about that had he been around for the all fall camp. — Matt Tamanini

V is for Victor

Ever since Devin Smith left, Ohio State’s been looking for a receiver that can threaten defenses vertically. Enter Binjimen Victor. Victor has the size—he’s listed at 6-foot-4—and leaping ability to make contested catches, and has also flashed the ability to make plays downfield:

That skillset makes Victor unique among the wide receiver group, and should give him a defined role. Add in Dwayne Haskins’ powerful arm, and Ohio State may end up having their most explosive passing game since the 2014 National Championship season. — Colton Denning

W is for Wade

I’ve been campaigning all off-season on the Hangout in the Holy Land that Shaun Wade will be Ohio State’s best defensive back by the end of the season, and I’m going to double down on it here. Wade redshirted as a true freshman, but has impressive measurables, and was one of the best players in the country in the 2017 recruiting class. He’s listed as second string for the Oregon State game, but don’t be shocked if that changes very soon. — Colton Denning

X is for X-rays

Every football season has its fair share of injuries, and last year for the Buckeyes was no exception. And, despite injuries to the likes of Damon Arnette, Jerome Baker, Dante Booker, Branden Bowen, Demario McCall, and Mike Weber (just to name a few), OSU didn’t have nearly the rash of injuries that many other teams did, and rarely was it at a position that there wasn’t adequate depth to fill in the void. The injuries to the linebacking corps probably were the hardest to recover from, and fortunately Dwayne Haskins was there to fill in J.T. Barrett at QB when he was hurt (again) against TTUN. However, if this year’s Buckeyes want to book a return trip to the College Football Playoff, it would certainly help for as many key players to avoid the need for X-rays... or MRIs, or concussion protocols, or second opinions, or any additional medical attention in general. — Matt Tamanini

Y is for Young

Chase Young is listed at 6-5, 265.

Chase Young does things like this.

Chase Young is terrifying.

Colton Denning

Z is for Zone 6

For the first time since Urban Meyer got to Columbus, someone other than Zach Smith will be leading the OSU wide receiver room. The new WR coach, former Buckeye Brian Hartline, will fortunately have quite the roster of receivers to coach up this season. With the official depth chart released on Tuesday, it looks like the OSU coaching staff has pared down the number of starters it is listing at the H-back and WR positions. It sat at six for most of last season, but they’ve got it down to four for the 2018 season opener.

On Saturday, Parris Campbell will be the No. 1 H-back, Austin Mack will start on one side of the field, and either Terry McLaurin or Johnnie Dixon will start on the other. This collection of players seems poised to have a dynamic breakout season working with a more pass-friendly quarterback in Dwayne Haskins. With Heisman-caliber running backs in J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, if Zone 6 can finally deliver on the promise of its collective talent, this offense should compete to be the scariest in the country. — Matt Tamanini


Poll

What "Letter" will be the most important for the Buckeyes this season?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A is for Almost Here
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    B is for Big Bob
    (0 votes)
  • 5%
    C is for Center
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    D is for Day
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    E is for Electric (off the Bye)
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    F is for First Meeting
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    G is for Grinch
    (1 vote)
  • 43%
    H is for Haskins
    (43 votes)
  • 0%
    I is for Isaiah Prince
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    J is for Johnnie Dixon
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    K is for Kick Return
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    L is for Leaders
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    M is for Milestone
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    N is for Neutral Site
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    O is for Option
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    P is for Pass Rush
    (3 votes)
  • 4%
    Q is for Quarterback Depth
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    R is for RPO
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    S is for Special Teams
    (2 votes)
  • 5%
    T is for Twelve Returning Starters
    (5 votes)
  • 12%
    U is for Urban Meyer
    (12 votes)
  • 0%
    V is for Victor
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    W is for Wade
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    X is for X-rays
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    Y is for Young
    (3 votes)
  • 10%
    Z is for Zone 6
    (10 votes)
98 votes total Vote Now